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Managing Menopause in the Workplace: No Laughing Matter

29 November 2018

Women experiencing the symptoms of menopause are often the subject of workplace ‘banter’ and encouraged to simply “get on with it” regardless of how they may feel mentally or physically. The truth is that for many women, menopause and its symptoms are no laughing matter; workplace treatment can make a significant difference to how challenging this transition is.

What is Menopause?

Menopause is the time when a woman’s periods stop and she is no longer able to become pregnant naturally; this usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55 but may occur earlier due to illness, surgery or medical treatment for example.

What are the Symptoms?

Menopause may cause some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Hot flushes
  • Memory loss
  • Loss of concentration
  • Panic attacks/Anxiety
  • Low mood
  • Difficulty sleeping

How do the Stats stack up?

The average age to experience menopause is 51. Statistics suggest that around 3.5million women aged over 50 are in employment in the UK.

Is menopause an employment issue?

In short, yes.

The symptoms that menopause can cause may constitute a disability; if you fail to implement reasonable adjustments a claim for disability discrimination may be made.

It is unlawful to discriminate on the basis of nine protected characteristics; one of the protected characteristics is gender. If an employer treats a woman less favourably because she is experiencing symptoms of the menopause then they may face a claim for direct discrimination.

In addition workplace ‘banter’ connected to menopause may provide grounds for a harassment claim.

What can employers do?

  • Implement a policy to educate and inform;
  • Train staff to increase awareness and encourage a supportive environment
  • Consider how to improve the working conditions of women experiencing symptoms of menopause including giving thought to:
    • Availability of changing/washing facilities;
    • Availability of drinking water
    • Access to ventilation and temperature control
    • Availability of quiet working spaces.

If you need advice about this or any other workplace issue please contact Eve Lakin on 01270 619689 or eve.lakin@poolealcock.co.uk

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